Eclipse Award winner and 1988 Breeders’ Cup Sprint Champion Gulch has died at the age of 32 at the Old Friends retirement home in Kentucky.
Gulch was euthanised on Sunday morning, January 17, due to complications from cancer. At 32, Gulch was the oldest living Breeders’ Cup Champion.
A son of Mr. Prospector out of the Rambunctious mare Jameela, Gulch had been a resident of the Thoroughbred Retirement Center based in Georgetown, Kentucky, since 2009 and was one of the farm’s of flagship stallions attracting visitors and fans from all around the country.
As both a runner and a sire, Gulch blazed an unforgettable trail. Bred by Peter Brant in Kentucky, Gulch became a Grade 1 winner as a two-year-old when he captured the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. At three he won the GR 1 Wood Memorial and the first of his two consecutive wins in the GR1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.
As a four-year-old Gulch captured the GR3 Potrero Grande Handicap and the GR1 Carter Handicap en route to his final start and greatest victory in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Sprint for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. For his efforts Gulch was named 1988 Eclipse Champion Sprinter.
The stallion retired with 13 wins from 32 starts and earnings of $3,095,521.
Gulch continued his career success as a sire at William S. Farish’s Lane’s End Farm near Versailles.
His most notable offspring is 1995 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Thunder Gulch. Other Grade 1 winners include Court Vision, Great Navigator, The Cliff’s Edge, and Wallenda, also a retiree at Old Friends.
In all, Gulch is represented by 71 stakes winners – 30 of whom are grade or group winners – 72 stakes-placed runners and the earners of $80 million.
Due to declining fertility, Gulch was pensioned from the breeding shed in 2009 and was later donated to Old Friends by Lane’s End.
At the time, Lane’s End principal Bill Farish noted that the stallion’s popularity with fans influenced the farm’s decision to send him to Old Friends, which is open daily to tourists.
“He was a horse that was well-known to the public having been through the Triple Crown trail and having been a top two-year-old and a champion sprinter,” Farish said in 2009. “He was a horse that people always wanted to see. Plus, he’s kind of a ham, and he will enjoy the attention immensely.”
“As Leroy Jolley, who was Gulch’s first trainer, once said, ‘Gulch must be the toughest horse who ever lived,’ and he was,” noted Old Friends’ president and founder Michael Blowen.
“He was confident, self-possessed and regal. He didn’t demand respect – he earned it. He is irreplaceable.”